Return to the main BookGuide page
Connect to the main Lincoln City Libraries Web site!
Submit Your Own Review!
Click here to submit your own review!

2012 Reviews

See index of all past Customer Reviews

.
We Are Anonymous - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
We Are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency
by Parmy Olson [364.168 Ols]

A book about an internet entity as seemingly fast and complicated as Anonymous and 4chan seems like it would be impossible to research, but Parmy Olson does a very good job at coming off well informed. A interesting read on both the technical complexities of hacking as well as the even more hard to understand social uses of the internet and how normal people can be in some ways reprogrammed and de-synthesized. The book often feels like a thriller, focusing on a few individual hackers rather than anonymous as a whole. I highly recommend if you are curious about hackers, Anonymous, or even the effects of the internet on our society.

Score - 8
reviewed by Wyatt P.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
December 10, 2012

Food of a Younger Land - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
The Food of a Younger Land
by Mark Kurlansky [394.12 Kur]

What a fascinating book and what a fine example of serendipity! Kurlansky was researching another topic when he found essays on regional food written by writers like Nelson Algren and Zora Neale Huston for FDR's Works Projects Administration (WPA). There are chapters based on foods all over America --foods that owe nothing to the microwave -- and the section on Nebraska includes a very readable story about cooking for the farm's threshers. You might not make all of the recipes, but it's good to peruse and think about where we USED to be as a country.

Score - 9
reviewed by Barbara R.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
November 6, 2012

Visiting Tom - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
Visiting Tom: A Man, a Highway and the Road to Roughneck Grace
by Michael Perry [Biography Hartwig]

Perry is an excellent writer, whose books can appeal to both men and women. This look into his neighbor Tom's life is a delight.

[Read Barbara's longer review of this title in the 402(411) section of the Sunday, November 4, 2012 issue of the Lincoln Journal Star newspaper!]

Score - 9
reviewed by Barbara R.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
October 31, 2012

Cosmopolis - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
Cosmopolis
by Don DeLillo [DeLillo]

I picked up this book, not unlike many others, because I heard about the movie. I found this book to be vastly more interesting than the summary lead on, and the pacing made it a quick, and exciting read. I think some people didn't like this book because it was a little abstract, but that's what I loved about it. It had a way of making you think about modern society. The book's weaknesses were probably the setting, being in a limo, because most people assumed that would be boring. The book's strength would come from the tone and pacing.

Score - 9
reviewed by Erin H.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
October 18, 2012

Cinder - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 8
Cinder
by Marissa Meyer [YA Meyer]

What I really want to tell you is: I love Cinder, the first book in The Lunar Chronicles. Oh, and Marissa Meyer rocks as an author! Yet as a reviewer, I need to back up those statements with reasons. Well, if I absolutely must give you more of an explanation, I enjoyed Cinder by Marissa Meyer on two accounts. As a reader, I love that it's a fantasy, set in the future, and based on a fairy tale. As a writer, I feel in awe of how many elements of fiction Marissa Meyer gets perfect. Now for a closer look at those statements. As a reader, I like that Cinder is a fantasy for young adults. Cinder is set in a not-so-pleasant future. However, it branches beyond that, being about a teenage girl who is part cyborg and part human. Another way that Meyer sets Cinder apart from other dystopian fiction is that she set her story in futuristic Asia. However, I must admit that I most felt mesmerized by the androids, net screens, mechanical legs, hovercrafts, and other markings of a futuristic world. Let me wrap-up this paragraph by saying that Cinder is also based on a fairy tale -- I'm sure you can guess which one. I think she handled it quite smartly, in that she used what she needed and dropped what she didn't. For instance, while there are two step sisters, one of them is nice. Also, Cinder meets the prince before the ball, and Cinder's "fairy godmother" is instead a secretive doctor. Last, there's a Lunar Queen who is far more terrifying than the entire wicked step family. As a writer, I feel in awe of how many elements of fiction Marissa Meyer gets perfect. The plot instantly takes off in the very first paragraph. With so much action, you might wonder if there's any room for character development. In Meyer's skilled hands there is! Cinder is a delightful mix of human and cyborg parts. Real teenage girls will appreciate that Cinder isn't just a trembling flower but also has amazing strengths. Regarding the story's secondary characters, there are certainly those that are two-dimensional. For instance, a few of the minor characters are evil for no apparent reason and Prince Kai too conveniently falls in love with Cinder. However, the majority of the cast are quirky and complex; I love how sweet and fun Iko and Peony are. Cinder is one of my favorite books of the year. It's exciting enough that I can picture other authors trying to emulate it. Could Meyer start a new trend of cyborg literature?

Score - 8
reviewed by Allison H-F..
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
September 15, 2012

Storybound - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 8
Storybound
by Marissa Burt [j Burt]

Una Fairchild opens a book in her school library...and wakes up in a land where everyone is a character in a story! She befriends Peter, a Hero-In-Training and a talking cat named Sam, as well as a Prissy Princess with a few secrets of her own. But when a bunch of dangerous people realize Una's been 'Written In', and want her rubbed out of the picture, what can she do? I loved this book, filled with fantasy and magic, and real-life troubles as well! Read it...if you dare.

Score - 8
reviewed by Elanor J.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
August 1, 2012

Bliss - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 8
Bliss
by Kathryn Littlewood [j Littlewood]

Rosemary Bliss has a gorgeous older brother, a laugh-out-loud little brother, and an adorable little sister, plus two wacky parents who own the best bakery in her town. But Rosemary is just...plain. She's nothing special. Until she realizes her parents are putting more than just sugar in their batter. They use magic to make people's lives better! But when her parents go away for a week and strange but amazing Aunt Lily shows up, everything goes wrong -- Rosemary and her siblings try to do magic for the first time and end up creating a disaster! Can they fix it before their parents get home? Filled with mystery, suspense, intrigue, and a dash of magical bliss, this book is sure to delight your sweet tooth!

Score - 8
reviewed by Elanor J.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
August 1, 2012

A Beautiful Dark - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
A Beautiful Dark
by Jocelyn Davies [YA Davies]

I found this to be a very enjoyable title, combining fantasy and romance into a tale that will be beloved by many teens. In the book, the main character must make a choice between light and dark, control and chaos. Caught in the middle, her troubles will be easy for almost every one to relate to and understand.

Score - 9
reviewed by Sammy B.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
July 29, 2012

Savvy - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
Savvy
by Ingrid Law [j Law]

I loved this book!!! My favorite thing about this book is that it is a fantasy but is also realistic. I love the way that when they turn 13 they get their "power", and that everyone has a different power.

Score - 10
reviewed by Helen L.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
July 29, 2012

Matched - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
Matched
by Ally Condie [YA Condie]

I loved this book. I went through a lot of mixed emotions throughout the book. You have to get used to it at first, because it takes time in the future. This book is quite long, but is worth the read. I encourage everyone to read this book, but you should probably wait until you are in 4th or 5th grade.

Score - 10
reviewed by Taylor A.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
July 25, 2012

Invasion of the Road Weenies - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
Invasion of the Road Weenies and Other Warped and Creepy Tales
by David Lubar [j Lubar]

This is a perfect book for someone who would rather listen to a bunch of different, smaller stories than one big one. Also if you are a fan of weird, creepy, or just plain strange. Prepare to feel bad for the antagonist as these short stories will change your point of view of the world forever.

Score - 10
reviewed by Jonas S.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
July 22, 2012

xxxxx - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
Howl's Moving Castle
by Diane Wynne Jones [j Jones]

Set in a world of magic and witches, this a delightful book for all ages. The main character, Sophie Hatter, is a strong minded 18-year-old who always looks on the bright side, even when an evil witch turns her into an old woman.

Score - 9
reviewed by Sammy B.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
July 18, 2012

Chasing Vermeer - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
Chasing Vermeer
by Blue Balliett [j Balliett]

This book was amazing. I liked how it was a mystery and the characters had to solve a bunch of puzzles. This book had a lot of adventure and logic involved. I also like how Calder has pentominoes and uses them to figure things out. Also, I think it's cool how Petra is really good at writing and discovers things through that. My favorite part is how in the pictures there's a hidden puzzle.

Score - 10
reviewed by Helen L.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
July 18, 2012

The Best of Altan - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
The Best of Altan
by Altan [Compact Disc 781.63 IreA]

Some Irish music that is very soothing. They are really talented even if Irish isn't a part of your heritage. That's the case with me, And I still enjoy it. Check it out, and If you don't like it, no big deal. But you probably will.

Score - 10
reviewed by Jason S.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
July 18, 2012

Groosham Grange - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 6
Groosham Grange
by Anthony Horowitz [YA Horowitz]

Young David Elliot is a bit of a misfit. He keeps getting suspended and gets himself in a lot of trouble with his (In my opinion) psychopathical dad. When his dad gets a mysteroious letter from someone unknown to his dad, about taking his son to an unheard of school that his son doesn't even like the idea of going to, he does what all great dads do: Has his son pack his bags and boots him out the door. What's even worse, he meets other kids his age on the bus who got a letter for the same place, but with a completely different description...

Score - 6
reviewed by Jonas S.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
July 18, 2012

Fracture - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
Fracture
by Megan Miranda [YA Miranda]

Fracture is a wonderful book that makes you think about how big of an impact death can really be. Dying, being able to sense death, trying to prevent death, and being thought responsible for a best friends death really is a lot to deal with. Not to mention her parents thinks Delaney is crazy. I would reccommend Fracture to anyone who reads.

Score - 10
reviewed by Cosette R.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
July 18, 2012

When You Were Mine - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
When You Were Mine
by Rebecca Serle

Can I just say one thing before I review this? I was never really, truly interested in the big and famous Romeo and Juliet. But after reading this book I'm actually considering to read it....Hah! Gotcha. No way am I reading that. This book made me want to choke the SHIZ out of Juliet. I have never hated a character so much. Right from the beginning when Rose the main character mentioned her, I just wanted to hit something. She's just really mean! I don't care if she's your cousin! You do not, I repeat, NOT, let anyone just steal your boyfriend and be okay with that. I loved Rose but she was a total pushover. She was just too nice. But what got me SUPER mad was that Rob just let Juliet take him and he let her hurt Rose. Shame on him. Despite my anger with this book though, I adored it. It might be hard to imagine with all my criticism with Juliet but it was one of the best books I've ever read..

The libraries do not own this title -- you may wish to order it through our InterLibrary Loan service.

Score - 9
reviewed by Vanessa L.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
July 17, 2012

Haven - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
Haven
by Kristi Cook [YA PB Cook]

The author has mixed psychic teenagers, steamy romance, and a hint of vampire to make a well written novel to be enjoyed by teens across the nation. I would recommend this book to any teen who likes fantasy or romance, though some parts may not be good for children under 12 or teens with overprotective parents.

Score - 9
reviewed by Sammy B.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
July 17, 2012

The Help - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
The Help
by Kathryn Stockett [Stockett]

I really, really liked this book and it was the first historical fiction book I've ever read that I've actually liked. I liked being able to see segregation from the view of a maid and also a white girl. The plot was also really good and I couldn't put this book down!!!!

Score - 10
reviewed by Ellen L.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
July 17, 2012

Night Runner - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 3
Night Runner
by Max Turner [YA Turner]

The book was very fast paced and kept me reading and the action throughout kept my interest. However the actual plot wasn't that great. Sometimes i feel like there should have been an emotional pull but that was left out, doing so made me not feel very connected to the main character of Zack. The writing was okay not my favorite though and I doubt I'll read the next books in this series.

Score - 3
reviewed by Wyatt P.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
July 17, 2012

A Discovery of Witches - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
A Discovery of Witches
by Deborah Harkness [Harkness]

The writing is perfectly masterful with the right amount of description and prose to illustrate the text. Every character has a lavishly constructed back story adding to the primarily character driven story. I have no complaints when it comes to Harkness's well researched story, other than I felt that action was lacking but I hope that will pick up in the future editions of the series.

Score - 9
reviewed by Wyatt P.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
July 9, 2012

Cold Cereal - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
Cold Cereal
by Adam Rex [j Rex]

Scottish Play Doe (a.k.a. Scott) can "see things" like a giant Rabbit-Man with a lisp, a two-foot leprechaun named Mick, and mermaids, unicorns, etc. But when he realizes they're REAL, and that they've just escaped from, off all places, the Goodco Cereal Company, a cereal factory with "a little bit of magic in every box," things start to take a turn for the weird...er...weird-er. And when, worse, he and his twin brother-and-sister-friends (the girl, by the way, barfs rainbows and burps butterflies) discover a weird cult is behind the draining of magic from magical creatures and the implanting the magic in cereal so they can rule the world and turn all cereal-eating-children into mindless zombie-slaves, what do they do? Only the obvious--camp out for a few days in Bigfoot's tree house (who happens to be a house-cleaner and nanny) and then they attack! Will the reign of the GoodCo Cereal Company ever end? Or will "Burlap Crisp" and "Peanut Butter Clobbers" take over the world? With a little help from Bigfoot, a Queen-Punching-Actor, and various magical creatures (including a fire-breathing Finch and a flabby Merlin from the future) this amazing book will leave you begging for seconds!

Score - 9
reviewed by Elanor J.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
July 3, 2012

Storm Makers - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 8
The Storm Makers
by Jennifer E. Smith [j Smith]

What if you had the power to create storms? When a mysterious man shows up and tells a girl named Ruby her twin brother Simon has this power, she responds how a normal person would. She doesn't believe him. But after evidence, Ruby is forced to accept the truth. And then she and Simon discover a plot to take over the world, destroy it, etc. etc. Can Ruby help Simon to master his power in time to save the world? And why is it he can only do it when she seems to be thinking the physics of the storm out? With delightful pictures by Brett Helquist, known for the Series of Unfortunate Events (uh...series) this book will electrify your wildest wishes!

Score - 8
reviewed by Elanor J.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
July 3, 2012

Pillage - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 5
Pillage
by Obert Skye [j Skye]

I expected more from this book. I enjoyed all of it, except for the fact that the dragons were evil. I'm probably just being narrow-minded about this...it was a nice take on dragons, since nowadays they're mostly good. But I still expected more from it.

Score - 5
reviewed by Elanor J.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
July 3, 2012

A Hero for Wondla - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
A Hero for Wondla
by Tony DiTerlizzi [j DiTerlizzi]

Tony DiTerlizzi has a sequel to his 'WondLa' book that is as spectacular as the first! Filled with adventure, aliens, danger, fear, worry, and every emotion a teenage girl practically stranded in a strange world filled with friendly and very very unfriendly aliens can feel! Both Rick Riordan (author of the Percy Jackson, Lost Hero, and Red Pyramid series) and Suzanne Collins (author of Gregor the Overlander and Hunger Games series) recommend this book! If you love Science Fiction, this is the book for you!

Score - 9
reviewed by Elanor J.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
July 3, 2012

Chomp - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 8
Chomp
by Carl Hiaasen [j Hiaasen]

Carl Hiaasen has done a spectacular job in his new book Chomp. He combines adventure, drama, humor, and real-life-issues and danger into one thrilling and laugh-filled book. Included are two snakes (a Burmese Python named Beulah and a Banded Water Snake called Fang), one Alligator named Alice, one Florida Mastiff bat, one snapping turtle, and approx. 2,000 mosquitoes. Humans included mainly consist of a teen boy (missing a thumb) and his dad who practically own a reptile zoo, a teen girl and her dad (who is a drunk with a gun and a quick-to-strike-hand) and a not-so-tough "survivalist" who prefers cheese and jacuzzis to spending one day in the wild by himself, Derek Badger. Along the way, Mr. Badger gets "chomped" by all 2,005 creatures previously mentioned. Think he'll learn to survive? Ssssink your teeth into this good book!

Score - 8
reviewed by Elanor J.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
July 2, 2012

Sweet Venom - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
Sweet Venom
by Tera Lynn Childs [YA Childs]

This is a great fantasy book for teenagers and preteens. It combines the lives of three teenage girls and their everyday drama with Greek myth and monster hunting to form a well balanced, fast-paced novel. The characters are well thought out and easy for most teenage girls to relate to.

Score - 9
reviewed by Sammy B.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
July 1, 2012

Sean Griswold's Head - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
Sean Griswold's Head
by Lindsey Leavitt [YA Leavitt]

This book starts out with a very organized girl who finds out that her mom and dad have been lying to her about her dad having MS or multiple sclerosis. Then she is very mad and does not even talk to her parents, and has to go to counseling. Her counseler says to find a focus object so she does and it is a person's head -- Sean Griswold's head. Great for 6th graders and up! She might find a new crush too...will it be Sean or someone else? Find out in...Sean Griswold's Head!

Score - 10
reviewed by Natalie S.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
July 1, 2012

Nim Chimpsky - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
Nim Chimpsky, The Chimp Who Would Be Human
by Elizabeth Hess

Nim Chimpsky, The Chimp Who Would Be Human was a very touching story about a captive chimpanzee being studied for the ability of animals to learn languages. Nim Chimpsky was the chimp's name, a pun on a leading language researcher, Noam Chomsky. Nim was eventually able to learn American Sign Language, with the ability to communicate with other humans. Yet this project was looked down upon by some scientists, since they thought that this did not harness the chimp's true ability.

The libraries do not own this book -- you may wish to order it through our InterLibrary Loan service. The libraries do, however, have the movie Project Nim on DVD, which was based on this book.

Score - 9
reviewed by Felix C.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 25, 2012

More Confessions... - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
More Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet
by Lola Douglas [YA Douglas]

It was a really cool book. The drama of it was really well written and the characters are all really well described. Overall, it was a good read.

Score - 10
reviewed by Taylor J.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 25, 2012

Mockingjay - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 5
Mockingjay
by Suzanne Collins [YA Collins]

I think that Mockingjay was very informing; it gave you more of a background to what happened to District 13, although, I got very bored with it. I think it was kind of a let down compared to the first two books in the Hunger Games trilogy.

Score - 5
reviewed by Jaidyn B.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 24, 2012

Ranma 1/2 Vol 1 - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
Ranma 1/2
by Rumiko Takahashi [YA PB Takahashi]

Ranma 1/2 is a manga that I'd recommend to most teenagers. It has a good sense of transition between moods, ranging from slapstick to mildly dramatic. The extensive use of tropes (some of which this series created) adds more to the story and character development. It's fairly long, having 36 volumes, but I think it is a rather enjoyable series as a whole, and recommend it to people who might have liked her other works, including Inu Yasha: A Feudal Fairytale.

The libraries do not own all 36 volumes in this series -- you may wish to order missing volumes through our InterLibrary Loan service.

Score - 10
reviewed by Jeevan R.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 24, 2012

The Replacement - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
The Replacement
by Brenna Yovanoff [YA Yovanoff]

Normal is not a familiar word for Mackie to live by. He has never been that way and has always had to hide who he really is. Only his family and best friend know what he truly is. I enjoyed this book and came across it as one of the books for the Gere Branch TeensRead Book Group. I felt that the story was well crafted. I would recommend this title because it looks into some common teen issues about trying to fit in and have fun with others. The book does seem slow at time, but it is offset through action and the climax of the story. One of the biggest appeals of this book is how it makes you think about the world around you, and how others generally react to issues that occur. This book is a good read for almost anyone and especially young adults looking for something to read.

Score - 9
reviewed by Alex A.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 24, 2012

In a town of strange occurances and dark strangers, where people lie to themselves to retain a balance of normalcy, there is Mackie. He longs to belong but when you suffer just from being near iron and and you can't go near the consecrated church and cemetery ground it can make things difficult. He knows he's different and must lie to everyone, including himself, just to seem human. Dark, mysterious, strange, all words to describe this interesting and fun book. The characters are relatable and flawed, some dark and kinky. The town of Gentry is a character in and of itself. For me, the main character Mackie was the most relatable to me, and I could understand his longing just to have a normal, easy-going conversation. But if I had to pick my favorite, I would have to choose Morrigan, who is so darkly cute and kind and odd, you can't help but like her.

Score - 8
reviewed by Wyatt P.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 25, 2012

Close to Famous - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
Close to Famous
by Joan Bauer [YA Bauer]

This book is a great story, about the sad life of a poor girl living in Memphis, who has a very hard time reading and isn't doing very good in school, and whose dad died in the Army. Her mom is being abused by a Elvis impersonator named Huck. He just broke a window into their home, so then they start driving away from the evil Elvis, and drive all the way to Culpepper, West Virginia.

Score - 9
reviewed by Natalie S.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 22, 2012

Everything You Need to Survive the Apolcalypse - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 8
Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse
by Lucas Klauss [YA Klauss]

The writing is great, so is the character development. At times the plot is sloppy but it's mostly pretty tight and well thought out. My only complaint is the side story with Phillip's mom. I wished there was more about her so I could feel a connection with her death; the parts about her fell flat

Score - 8
reviewed by Wyatt P.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 21, 2012

The Inheriator - Cover
The Inheritors
by William Golding [Golding]

The basis for this story was clever and well thought out. I did not however really care for the wrtiting. At times it was unclear what was happening.

reviewed by Wyatt P.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 21, 2012

Rise of the Governor - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 3
The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor
by Robert Kirkman [Kirkman]

The story by itself was alright but when added to the Walking Dead universe it feels very lacking. The awkward third person present tense narrative adds to the confused atmosphere of the novel -- at times I like it and think it adds dimension; at many other places though it's just plain odd. I have read all the comics and they are thematic masterpieces, I had hoped a written format would add to the awsomeness, against my hopes however it fell flat. The twist ending was in a few words was disapointing, odd, against all previous character developments, and just plain stupid. If you discounted the Walking Dead comics tie in it would work, I do not however feel it worked here. For die hard Walking Dead comics fans or someone who is just looking for a good undead action story.

Score - 3
reviewed by Wyatt P.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 21, 2012

Twilight - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
Twilight
by Stephanie Meyer [YA Meyer]

I really loved this book. The characters all had very specific traits, were easy to identify, and were very well crafted. The amount of suspense in this book was very good. The thrilling ending to the book was just what it needed.

Score - 10
reviewed by Taylor J.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 21, 2012
>

Read an earlier -- 2010 -- review of Twilight by customer Elizabeth M.

Score - 9
reviewed by Elizabeth M.
customer of the Eiseley Branch Library
June 10, 2010

Read an earlier -- 2008 -- review of Twilight as a Book-on-CD by librarian Scott C.

Score - 7
reviewed by Scott C.
staff member at the Bennett Martin Public Library
August 2008

Odd is On Our Side - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
Odd is On Our Side
by Dean Koontz and Fred Van Lente [YA PB VanLente]

An epic cartoon-type book, with an interesting story line about a upper teen boy who can see the dead. He uses this ability to help others. But he is having trouble with this case, and it is very serious. It could mean life or death for a lot of people. And the problem is, he's not getting anywhere...

Score - 10
reviewed by Jonas S.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 17, 2012

Watership Down - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
Watership Down
by Richard Adams [Adams or j Adams]

Some novels will feel like an endurance test just four pages in. Without fail, whenever I read Watership Down, those four hundred pages feel to me like a summer holiday. "The rabbits arrived at their new home " but I'm not even halfway through the book," my husband observed. "What in the world can happen next?" Richard Adams never ceases to amaze me with how he handles pacing. On the surface, his rabbit tale is a fairly simple one: rabbits must escape their doomed warren and find a new home. In less capable hands, Watership Down would have been half as long and packed with chases, storms, brawls, and catastrophes. But Adams never hurries his tale. Adams also never resorts to implausible plot twists. Instead he is perfectly content to tell his simple tale and trust his readers to listen -- and so we do. I am also astounded at how imperfect and yet captivating are Adams' rabbits. Take Fiver, a runt who has been blessed with the gift of prophecy. Then there is Fiver's older brother, Hazel, whose greatest strength is his ability to identify and trust the strengths of others. Yet even he also makes errors in judgment. Darker characters also exist. For example, Strawberry who lives in a different warren almost becomes the downfall of one of Hazel's companions. Despite his betrayal, he eventually joins Hazel's warren and becomes a great asset. These rabbits are fallible, allowing Adams to present many stirring moments of heartache and redemption. Adams considered the Berkshire countryside to also be a character in Watership Down. That's not to say Adams wastes time waxing poetic. In each paragraph, he details the scenery but also the place of the rabbits within it: "The May sunset was red in clouds and there was still half an hour to twilight. The dry slope was dotted with rabbits -- some nibbling at their grass". Those paragraphs might be long, but they effectively establish a tone of peace, which within a few pages is quietly interrupted. Readers are all the richer for how saturated in reality Watership Down really is. "No author today would think of writing a four-hundred-page book about rabbits," my husband observed. Adams himself did not begin with such an audacious goal; Watership Down started out as story told by Adams to his daughters on car rides. After a small-time publisher accepted it for a two thousand copy run, it has rightfully sold millions.

Score - 9
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
June 16, 2012

Read a 2009 review of Watership Down by librarian Scott C.

Score - 9
reviewed by Scott C.
staff member at the Bennett Martin Public Library
May 2004

Dead Reckoning - Cover
Dead Reckoning
by Charlaine Harris [Harris]

The latest of the Sookie Stackhouse novels. I like this one because although she was challenged by another woman (and vampire queen) she still stands up to her although she is just a 'human'. Sookie is the typs of heroine you want to be, gutsy and strong.

reviewed by Christy T.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 16, 2012

Dead as a Doornail - Cover
Dead as a Doornail
by Charlaine Harris [Harris]

Sookie, the human/heroine, now meets and falls in love with the Werewolf, to the frustration of her previous vampire lover. I like this series because it has 'love' scenes, but not the ones that you feel uncomfortable reading while sunning by the pool with the kids.

reviewed by Christy T.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 16, 2012

Dead Until Dark - Cover
Dead Until Dark
by Charlaine Harris [Harris]

This series is not your typical vampire books. Sookie is the human/heroine who falls in love with vampires, not the gory vampires, but the ones who are sexy with a sense of humor.

reviewed by Christy T.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 16, 2012

Read a 2004 review of the early books in the Sookie Stackhouse series by librarian Scott C.

reviewed by Scott C.
staff member at the Bennett Martin Public Library
May 2004

The Search for Wondla - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
The Search for Wondla
by Tony DiTerlizzi [j DiTerlizzi]

It is a book that will be hard to turn away from. It is about a girl who has lived in an underground bunker called a sanctuary for all of her 12 years of her life with her robot caretaker Muthr. Then a ruthless alien bounty hunter destroys the sanctuary. The girl Eva Nine is then forced to escape and finds herself on a strange planet. I won't tell you any more so I don't spoil it.

Score - 9
reviewed by Matthew D.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 11, 2012

Unbelievable - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
Unbelievable
by Sara Shepard [YA (Series) Shepard]

This series of books are some of the best books I've ever read. They really convey the true desperation of Spencer, Hanna, Aria, and Emily in their search for A. The author does a really good job in laying on the suspense and drama.

Score - 10
reviewed by Taylor J.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 11, 2012

I.Q. Independence Hall - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
I.Q. - Independence Hall
by Roland Smith

I really enjoyed this book. It is about a boy and a girl that become brother and sister who track down the girl's mother who others think is not alive.

Score - 10
reviewed by Emily K.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 11, 2012

Eragon - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 7
Eragon
by Christopher Paolin [j Paolini]i

This book starts out with the main character in a forest called the Spine where he finds a blue stone that appears out of nowhere and he is soon to find out it is a DRAGON. The long gone Dragon Riders have been gone for so long that Eragon is the only Dragon Rider who is free of the control of Galbatorix the mad king.

Score - 10
reviewed by Tyler P.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 11, 2012

Read an earlier -- 2007 -- review of Eragon by customer Dragon Slayer.

Score - 4
reviewed by Dragon Slayer.
staff member of the Bennett Martin Public Library
February 12, 2007

Peak - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
Peak
by Roland Smith [j Smith]

This is a great book about a boy who enjoys climbing mountains. He is living in new York and he starts climbing skyscrapers. Eventually he gets caught and is forced to leave the country. His dad takes him and he goes to Mount Everest. When he finds out he will get to climb it he is in shock...just wait till his mom finds out.

Score - 9
reviewed by Emily K.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 11, 2012

Peace, Love and Baby Ducks - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
Peace, Love and Baby Ducks
by Lauren Myracle [YA Playaway Myracle]

I thought this book was so awesome. The one who read it on the playaway read it so it was really funny and enjoyable. Once I started reading it I could hardly put it down. [This review is for the Playaway Audio version of this title.]

Score - 9
reviewed by Katy K.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 10, 2012

Storm: The Infinity Code - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
Storm: The Infinity Code
by L.E. Young [j Young]

Storm: The Infinity Code is an exciting story, especially for teens who are into science, inventing, and changing the world. It is a story of three bright British teens, one who is a computer genius multimillionaire, another chemistry whiz, and the third an inventor. When they work together, they are able to do things that even impress the British Foreign Intelligence Service.

Score - 10
reviewed by Sander S.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 10, 2012

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 7
Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer
by John Grisham [j Grisham]

A murder case, a small town, and a kid whose parents are lawyers. What do you get? This book! It is a perfect mix of crime, action, and suspense!

Score - 7
reviewed by Jonas S.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 10, 2012

Seeds of Rebellion - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
Seeds of Rebellion
by Brandon Mull [j Mull]

Warning!!! If you haven't finished the first book yet, this may spoil it. After Jason finds his way back to the beyond, his face is all over the news. But he can't stop thinking about Lyrian and how much they need his help, so he keeps trying to find his way back so he can warn friens about the word being a fraud. One day he's about ready to give up ,but then the music starts coming from the hippo enclosure... Get ready to read the Bombastic conclusion of the second book in the Beyonders trilogy!!!

Score - 10
reviewed by Jonas S.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 10, 2012

The Lost Hero - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
The Lost Hero
by Rick Riordan [j Riordan]

I like this book because it has adventure with friends. Leo, Piper and Jason are friends of the Olympians. I would recommend this book to people who like Percy Jackson books, even though Percy isn't in the story. He returns in the next book, The Son of Neptune.

Score - 10
reviewed by Johan K.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 10, 2012

The Book of Earth - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
The Dragon Quartet, Book 1: The Book of Earth
by Marjorie B. Kellogg

This book starts like a regular book but then everything goes wrong for Erde. A priest takes control and gets rid of her best friend. Then she runs away and meets a dragon named Earth. It's an action packed book with lots of twists and turns.

Score - 9
reviewed by Garret C.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 9, 2012

Looking for Alaska - Cover
Average Score:
S7ore - 9
Looking for Alaska
by John Green [YA Green]

John Green addresses teen issues well in the truthful but funny book. Given that it is his first published book, it seems as if he has been working at writing for many years given the detail and depth of this story. An interesting format of the book is the chapter formats. In the beginning it is chronicled leading up to the climax of the story, and then begins to count forward in time after the climax. The story goes into detail about the main character, Miles, and his feelings about starting a new private school by choice to try and set a path for himself to find "The Great Perhaps". This book is full of humor, truth, and fun. It is a must read for any young adult.

Score - 9
reviewed by Alex A.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 9, 2012

When I first heard about Looking for Alaska, I thought it was going to be just a fun read... Boy, was I ever wrong. This is not a walk in the park. More like a walk in hurricane Katrina. I'm not saying the emotions in this book were a roller coaster, but the way the book changes was. Because, when you first meet Miles or as the "Colonel" calls him, "Pudge". You think he'll be a smart, not-stupid, boy. You think he'll turn down cigarettes, beer, and girls who'll use him just for..pleasure. Oh no. He does them all. The same goes for Alaska. This may not be the best book in the world but it does make you think what you would do if you were in Pudge's shoes. Also, if your looking for a long read, this is the book. Even if it is only 221 pages, it feels like forever.

Score - 5
reviewed by Vanessa L.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
July 22, 2012

Dead End in Norvelt - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
Dead End in Norvelt
by Jack Gantos [j Gantos]

This book is a great story so far! It has been very funny reading it and it feels like I am in the book with Jack the main person in this story! You should read it to find out more I got it at Barnes & Noble.

Score - 10
reviewed by Natalie S.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 8, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
Fifty Shades of Grey
by E.L. James [James]

OMG!!! This book is so good I read it in two days:-) can't wait to read the next two!

Score - 10
reviewed by Danielle B.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
June 7, 2012

Fall From Grace - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 3
Fall From Grace
by Wayne Arthurson [Arthurson]

It did not hold my interest but I still finished and it ended up a good book.

Score - 3
reviewed by Danielle B.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
June 7, 2012

A World Without Heroes - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
A World Without Heroes
by Brendon Mull [j Mull or jPB Mull]

It is a great book!!! A bit lengthy, but designed for young readers it will keep you hanging to the very last page!!! Fans of his previous series, Fablehaven, will enjoy this book where a boy Is plunged into a world different than ours, but they speak english and are humanoid, luckily, because if they didn't it would just be some foreigner rambling around without knowing what was happening. But he tells someone that he is from where English is from, and soon finds out that he is a Beyonder, which basically means he's from a different world. But he soon finds hhimself neck deep in trouble with an all powerful emperor that will stop at nothing to catch him. He ends up in the middle of an intense rebellion against him, and becomes the first hero in a world without them. Great book! Im only rating it nine because Im really picky. Read it! Now! It's awesome!

Score - 9
reviewed by Jonas S.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 7, 2012

Skull King's Shadow - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow
by James Rollins [j Rollins]

If you like action, adventure, fantasy, and historical fiction this is the best book for you to read1

Score - 10
reviewed by Mattew
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 7, 2012

Hunger Games - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins [YA Collins]

I love this book! It is a great combination of Action, Adventure, and Romance!I Read the whole series and it is awesome! It took me 2 days to read it! It was that good!

Score - 10
reviewed by Ashley A.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 7, 2012

Body Finder - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
The Body Finder
by Kimberly Derting. [YA PB]

This book is a three book series The Body Finder is the first one. The story is very suspenseful and at times scary. I think this would make a very very good night time book.

Score - 10
reviewed by Skyler W.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 7, 2012

Fault in Our Stars - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green [YA Green]

One Word: Amazing. This is just one of those books you could. Not. Put. Down. I would encourage everybody to read The Fault in Our Stars. You'd think it would be one of those stupid cliches where the boy and girl with cancer fall in love but no, it's much more. It shows the true struggles of a girl with cancer, from family to first love. You'll laugh, cry, and smile, wanting more with each and every page.

Score - 10
reviewed by Vanessa L.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 7, 2012

This book is one of my all time favorites in YA fiction. The voice of the main character, sixteen year old cancer patient Hazel is both smart and cynical while still retaining an air of humor and comedy. The actual writing is pure gold. The writing manages to insert yourself into the main character without being her. You feel her emotions and pain without being so first person. the story and plot itself is also refreshingly original and wonderfully planned.

Score - 9
reviewed by Wyatt P.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 25, 2012

Poppy - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
Poppy
by Avi [j Avi]

This story was a great adventure and friendship story. I love the whole series too!

Score - 10
reviewed by Natalie S.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 7, 2012

Hamlet - Cover
Hamlet
by William Shakespeare [822.33 Sha]

I believe that the thoughts behind Hamlet last through the ages. In this modern era, most people do not want to tackle items written in the type of English, though I think it is an excellent idea! Hamlet is about a prince's struggle with family. All of us have had family issues at some point in time, so let's not deny that. Anyways, the ghost of Hamlet's father, the king, visited Hamlet in the middle of the night, when he was speaking with a couple of people that lasted through the entire book. In the encounter with his father's ghost, Hamlet learns that his uncle, the current king, poisoned his father in order to take the throne. The issue of love comes in with Ophelia, whom Hamlet loves and Ophelia ends up loving him back. Though the famous "To be or not to be..." speech is very touching and a lot of what it says still is true to this day, it was basically a very lengthy way of dumping Ophelia. Hamlet ended up watching his mother die, after he returned from England, where he was sent, on account of him being "insane." After that, he ended up doing something fatally fun... fencing. Overall, I believe Hamlet to be an intriguing and amazing read, perfect for those hot and humid summer days.

reviewed by Sarah D.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 5, 2012

Paper Towns - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 8
Paper Towns
by John Green [YA Green]

John Green really goes in depth with this book. It is about a boy named Quintin but everyone calls him Q. His life suddenly changes when a friend who has lived next door to him since he was a kid runs away. Again. The only difference is that this time, she doesn't come back in the amount of time that she usually does. Left with poetic clues by Margo, Q and his friends go looking for Margo, and it takes them to the most unimaginable places physically, mentally,and emotionally. It is a great read for young adults and will keep you on your toes.

Score - 8
reviewed by Alex A.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 5, 2012

Mockingbird - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 8
Mockingbird
by Kathryn Erskine [j Erskine]

In my seven years of working as a resource teacher, I have encountered several students with Aspergers Syndrome. Hence, my interest in reading Mockingbird by Kathyrn Erskine about ten-year-old Caitlin who sees everything as black and white because of her syndrome. Perhaps because Erskine draws on both research and personal experience, Mockingbird is one those rare books which not only provides accurate information but also strikes a perfect emotional chord. One thing I love about Mockingbird is how Erskine takes me into Caitlin's head, helping me relate to her on some levels. Erskine also helps me to somewhat understand Caitlin, even when her feelings differ dramatically from my own. Throughout Mockingbird , Caitlin must also cope with other confusing situations beyond her brother's death. School still exists. As does life with dad. (No mention is made of mom.) Given the serious topics that Erskine tackles, you might worry that Mockingbird is a sad and heavy book. Not so! Humor abounds in both little and big doses, rising naturally out of Caitlin's unique take on the world. When describing a bully named Josh, Caitlin protests that he shouldn't smile when doing something bad because a smile is supposed to mean something nice. Ah, wouldn't it be wonderful if the world were so straightforward? I also love Caitlin's negative reactions to fairy tales. She thinks Cinderella is stupid because, well, she loses shoes all the time. And to her, the natural solution isn't a prince but to go back to the dance and look for the shoe. As a resource teacher, I have a special fondness for books which portray characters with special needs. Too much fiction has relegated these characters to secondary or stereotyped roles. In Mockingbird, Erskine puts a girl with Aspergers Syndrome in the spotlight who is so realistic that readers will come to know and understand her and see her life as more than just an inspirational or heart-breaking story.

Score - 8
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
June 5, 2012

Okay Fr Now - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 7
Okay for Now
by Gary Schmidt [j Schmidt]

Doug Swieteck doesn't care if you like him. He's just a loser kid from stupid Marysville in upstate New York. Doug first appeared as a secondary character in Wednesday Wars, for which author Gary Schmidt won a Newbery Honor. Now Doug is back as the main character in Okay for Now, the book I'm reviewing here. Both books feature disappointing fathers, antagonistic teachers who later turn out to be caring adults with some emotional baggage, and pretty girls who become love interests. In both books too, the Vietnam War serves as a backdrop. One big difference, which incidentally is one of my favorite parts of Okay for Now, are the Audubon plates of birds. At first, Doug thinks everything is stupid and likes to sarcastically throw around the word terrific, which makes him kind of hard to stomach. Then Doug sees those Audubon plates, six of which have been sold from the library's otherwise pristine copy of Birds of America to folks with the money to afford them, and his world slowly begins to change. Both of Doug's parents are around, although in the case of Doug's dad you have to wonder in the case of his dad how great that is. When in the middle of a conversation with him, his dad cuts him off. About that reaction, Doug says, "That's all I got out. My father's hands are quick. That's the kind of guy he is." His mom is a different story. Some of the funniest and sweetest moments come from those shared between Doug and his mom. Unfortunately, a few days before Washington Irving Junior High started, the local deli was broken into and Doug's brother was blamed. The geography teacher pauses before handing over a copy of a brand new textbook. The world history teacher announces they're going to start studying barbarian hordes and looks at Doug. And so the list continues until Doug meets his science teacher. Mr. Ferris tells him that the basic principle of physical science is: "Two bodies cannot occupy the same space at the same time." Loosely translated this means: Doug Swieteck is not his brother. Now if you think that for the rest of the school year all the other teachers ostracizes Doug, think again. Gary Schmidt is much too smart of an author to resort to cliché characters. That's why one part of Okay for Now disappointed me: the ending. Without telling you how, let me say that Schmidt made the mistake some authors do of needing to wrap up every last loose end. Moreover, those loose ends were turned into happy ones. Yet, for everything else that I loved aboutOkay for Now, I'm still recommending it.

Score - 7
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
June 5, 2012

The High King - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
The High King
by Lloyd Alexander [j Alexander]

In his author's note to The High King, Alexander writes "Like the previous tales, this adventure can be read independently of others." Nevertheless, he admits, "long-standing questions are resolved in this final book". For that reason I recommend that you first read the rest of the set. In this way, you'll feel the most fear when learning that Arawn, Death-Lord, has left his stronghold. You'll also better understand there is no hope if the enchanted sword Drynwyn can't be recovered. You see, as with The Last Battle in The Chronicles of Narnia, The High King is about the beginning of the end of Prydain as we and our beloved characters know it. As such, Alexander took some liberties that he didn't in his previous chronicles. For example, now and then, you'll find a chapter which is from the viewpoint of a character other than Taran. I especially liked the tale of Kaw the crow, a longtime companion to Taran who seeks out Medwyn (protector of animals) after being mercilessly attacked by gwythaints. Prophecies and magic also play a stronger role. Hen Wen makes two incomprehensible prophecies before her "prophecy sticks" break beyond repair. By the way, Coll now takes his place among the war gang. Indeed, pretty much everyone we know (along with some more new characters) will be required to take a stand for or against evil. You'll also find that with so many beloved characters on the battlefield, it's harder to know who will live and who will die. Although I made it through the first four books unscathed, I felt heartbroken and more than a bit teary-eyed at some of the choices Alexander made in The High King. Yet I loved rereading it and the whole series enough that you can bet that I'll pick them up again several more times in my lifetime.

Score - 10
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
June 5, 2012

Taran Wanderer - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
Taran Wanderer
by Lloyd Alexander [j Alexander]

This is my favorite book in The Prydain Chronicles! Alexander dedicates it to "For Wanderers still journeying, for Wanderers still at rest." More than any of the other books, this one makes me think of The Wizard of Oz with its routine introduction of new characters and settings. In this way, Alexander has found an ideal way to introduce readers to the varied landscapes of Prydain. Herein, you cannot help but fail to appreciate Alexander's ease in handling descriptions. Cantrev Cadiffor: "The countryside had long since changed from gray moors to green meadows and pleasantly wooded lands with farmholds nestled in the clearings." Free Commots: "This was the land of the free commots, of cottages clustering in loose circles, rimmed by cultivating fields and pastures." The place Taran most seeks however is the Mirror of Llunet, which can be found in the Llawgadarn. The significance of Its description, which I won't reveal here, lies in what it reveals to Taran. Like Dorothy, who in The Wizard of Oz seeks a way home, Taran wanders in search of his identity. Taran hopes to find that he is of a royal lineage, so that he might propose to Eilonwy whom he deeply loves. While seeking his lineage, he learns many truths:
  • The secret of luck is to sharpen one's wit to use what falls into one's hands.
  • Life is a forge. Metal is worthless till it's shaped and tempered.
  • One's lives and days intertwine; Wise is he who can see the pattern.
The most important truth, which I won't reveal here, lies in what the Mirror of Llunet tells Taran about his parentage. When upon meeting the herdsman Craddoc, Taran learns that he might have finally found his father. What will his reaction reveal about Taran as a person? To find out, you must travel along with Taran on his journey in Taran Wanderer.

Score - 10
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
June 5, 2012

The Castle of Llyr - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 8
The Castle of Llyr
by Lloyd Alexander [j Alexander]

Alexander prefaces The Castle of Llyr by stating that, "For each of us comes a time when we must be more than what we are. And this holds true for princesses as well as assistant pig-keepers." You'd think that with The Castle of Llyr being focused on Eilonwy, and my being female, this book would be my favorite. Yet except for The High King, the tales are all seen from Taran's viewpoint making The Castle of Llyr still a boy's read. Second, for much of the time, the story centers around the attempts of her friends to protect her. Third, although I love Eilonwy as much as the other major characters, in many ways Eilonwy fits the stereotype of girls in traditional fantasies. Her societal role is to dress up, chatter, cook, and serve men, but she rebels against it by wearing men's garb, wielding swords, and demanding rights as an equal. For all these reasons, The Castle of Llyr is not my favorite book. Yet I still like it. For within its pages, we meet the Prince of Rhun. He reminds me of a younger version of the inept and impatient but honorable and likeable Taran. I enjoyed how easily vexed Prince Rhun could make Taran. When Rhun introduces himself, he realizes to his shame that he forgot to ask anyone's name. Now he has to repeat his whole greeting. In telling about himself, Rhun proudly talks about how easy it is to command a voyage: "All I have to do is tell the sailors?." Thankfully, the sailors know how to do their job and quietly go about their tasks without paying heed to Rhun, who has no idea how a ship is really run. Unfortunately, his lack of knowledge doesn't stop him from trying to take his hand at steering, any more than it once kept Taran from trying to make or brandish a sword. Under Rhun's control, the ship lurches so violently that Taran is thrown against the bulwark where he receives a nasty bump on his head. Still, when Eilonwy disappears and is suspected of being in danger, Rhun is among the first to join the search party. Despite all impending doom, he refuses to turn back but vows to find her. Through Prince Rhun and other new characters, Alexander instills humor into a sometimes dark story.

Score - 8
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
June 5, 2012

The Black Cauldron - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
The Black Cauldron
by Lloyd Alexander [j Alexander]

Trouble seems to follow Taran. That could be a good thing, given how much he seeks adventure. Yet the trouble he finds isn't necessarily what he desires. One day while Taran is undertaking the dull task of washing Hen Wen, an arrogant stranger rides into Caer Dalben. The stranger demands Taran to run and tell his master that Prince Ellidyr has arrived. When Taran refuses, having his hands full with Hen-Wen, the prince leans down his horse, grabs Taran by his jacket, and hauls him across the yard. Fortunately, the incident mostly serves to damage Taran's pride. Later, Taran gets himself in trouble while talking to Eilonwy. He asks her to gird him with a sword but ruins this sweet moment by explaining that he needs her help because she's "the only girl in Caer Dalben". Poor Taran! He's in all this trouble but has yet to even leave with the council of men to battle against Annuvin. Yes, the second book in The Prydain Chronicles is another epic tale. Normally, war stories are not my taste, but The Black Cauldron is about far more than battles and bloodshed. For example, there is what happens when Taran and his friends discover the location of the Black Cauldron. The group is under the leadership of Adoan. Each one debates whether to find Gywdion to tell him the news or to seek out the cauldron themselves and destroy it. The cauldron is magical, in that whenever a dead body is thrown into it, that body becomes a Cauldron Born under the service of evil. The Cauldron Born kill without mercy, but themselves cannot be killed. Naturally, the good side wants the cauldron destroyed. Adoan allows Taran to make the choice of what to do, which leads the group into the Marshes of Morva where grave choices await. The latter involves an opportunity on Taran's part to gain unfathomable knowledge. Using it, he is able to guide his companions into unknown paths, sense impending danger, and know of the future. Yet is this how one really wants to gain wisdom? Throughout the entire series, I never ceased to be impressed by how many gentle insights Alexander instilled into his terrific adventures.

Score - 9
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
June 5, 2012

The Book of Three - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
The Book of Three
by Lloyd Alexander [j Alexander]

Meet Taran. Like most of us, he dreams of a more adventurous life. He doesn't want to tend vegetables or make horseshoes but instead dreams of galloping about on horses, flashing swords, and being a hero. One day he gets that chance, when he notices something amiss. The bees are fleeing. Next, the rooster and hens follow the bees. Before he can stop her, the family's prophetic pig has burrowed under the fence of her pen and escaped. In plunging after her, Taran is thrust into a battle of good against evil with such abundance of adventure his heart ought to feel content, but instead he is left yearning for the peace of his home Caer Dalben. One thing that astounds me about The Prydain Chronicles is how large of an ensemble Alexander not only introduces but makes memorable. Taran is assaulted by a wolfhound named Gurgi. The latter's favorite phrases are "poor, tender head" and "crunchings and munchings". Although initially Gurgi seems only out to gain food, he proves a faithful companion. As the companions proceed, they're captured by the wicked queen Achren. Taran is rescued again, this time by a girl. Although Eilonwy resembles the liveliest of chatterboxes, she also proves herself a feisty companion. When Achren catches Eilonwy talking to Taran and tries to whip her, she escapes by biting Achren. Although his release wasn't intentional, Fflewddur proves another valiant companion, despite his penchant to embellish the truth. At the moment he stretches the truth, one or more of his harp strings break, adding unforced comical relief to a tale fraught with danger and grief. Much later in their adventures, Taran also meets Doli. He's a dwarf who keeps trying to turn invisible by holding his breath. Everyone in his family has the power but him, which makes him feel like an outcast. Alexander's characters are all ones with whom you'd likely identify and enjoy getting to meet.

Score - 10
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
June 5, 2012

Bog Child - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 8
Bog Child
by Sibhan Dowd [j Dowd]

Bog Child. Her exceptional young adult novel is also about family, religion, sacrifice, and Ireland's Troubles in 1981. In other words, it's far more complex than I expected. If you don't know anything about bog bodies, Dowd's novel is a great place to start. In it, eighteen-year-old Fergus and his Uncle Tally find a female body buried in the bog while they're out shoveling peat. Turns out, the body has not been in the bog for weeks or months but for years. What makes Bog Child such an engaging and informative read is that Fergus starts having dreams about the buried woman, whom he names Mel, and the nature of her death. These dreams are intertwined with his muddled feelings about his brother, who is on a hunger strike. You see, besides learning about bog bodies, I also received many chapters-worth of education about a period known as Ireland's Troubles. In Bog Child, there are numerous references to soldiers, border checkpoints, bomb-makers, Semtrax, courier recruitment, hunger strikes, and violence. On a more personal level, Fergus (and his family) struggles to make sense of his brother's decision to join other protesting prisoners in a hunger strike. Yet Bog Child isn't a pro-war book. One of the most-touching friendships is between Fergus and an enemy soldier Owain, whom Fergus discovers is just another regular guy like him. None of the drawbacks to the book should deter you from reading Bog Child. It is full of happiness and sadness, joys and tragedies, and is one of the most original stories about growing-up that I've read.

Score - 8
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
June 5, 2012

Bodies From the Bog - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 8
Bodies From the Bog
by James Deem [j930.16 Dee]

James Deem starts with the story of the discovery of the famous Grauballe Man from Denmark. In the spring of 1952, when a group of men were digging in a partially drained bog, they made an unexpected discovery. About three feet below the surface, their shovels struck the head of a man. That man has since become known as the Grauballe Man, whom scientists have examined to determine age, last meal, and probable cause of death. Feeling curious? So was I, proving that Deem did his job of creating a good lead chapter. Next, Deem steps back in history to describe the earliest reports of bog bodies. Only after Deems has reeled us in with his multiple tales of death does he turn to the life in a bog. By now, we're ready to read about how those cold watery bog graves came about. After discussing other important finds, which are less morbid and more the stuff of routine archeology, Deems steps forward again to talk about how scientists examine a bog body. Most telling in this chapter is how much and yet how little scientists know. I appreciated how much Bodies From the Bog held my attention. Deems trusted the stories, facts, and photos of bog bodies to capture the attention of readers. The layout isn't cute, the fonts aren't playful, nor is the style aimed to please a juvenile audience. Those with a serious interest in mummified bodies will find this a solid reference book.

Score - 8
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
May 16, 2012

Bog Mummies - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 6
Bog Mummies
by Charlotte Wilcox [j930.1 Wil]

Charlotte Wilcox starts with the story of the discovery of the famous Lindow Moss bog body. In May of 1983, two workers were loading chunks of peat onto an elevator. They stopped when they saw a flat, brown, and leathery object on the elevator. What looked at first like a soccer ball turned out to be a man's head. At this point I was feeling curious, but also somewhat put off by the simplistic style. I felt as if I were reading an old Dick and Jane reader. It didn't help that the titles, captions, and even page numbers had bold and angled boxes around them. I felt as if the information wasn't being allowed to speak for itself. Rather, the design had been deliberately jazzed up to draw in readers. After sharing stories of famous bog discoveries, Wilcox presents an informational chapter about how bogs form mummies. Despite earlier criticizing Wilcox's simplistic style, I have to admit that I liked how understandable I found her explanation on bog origins. Based on her bibliography, it seems as if Wilcox depended heavily on only a small number of sources for her research. Combining this limitation with the simplistic style and jazzed-up graphics, Bog Mummies seems like just another book. While it could serve as a good place to start reading about bog bodies, I'd encourage you to read beyond it as well to books like those by James Deem.

Score - 6
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
May 14, 2012

School of Wizardry - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 3
School of Wizardry
by Debra Doyle and James MacDonald

School of Wizardry, the first in the Circle of Magic series by Debra Doyle and James MacDonald, often proved a tedious read. Although the book is written adeptly, it is far too serious for a fantasy book. Fantasy magic should be fun. Well, not in this book, where few people in Randal's world want to be a wizard. As a young squire, Randal is training to become a knight. Then a mysterious wizard named Madoc enters the castle gates. Madoc is called upon by the royal family to lighten up a grim and gloomy atmosphere. Yet while Madoc's performance garners him applause and awes Randal, the magic merely amounts to torches being extinguished, colored lights appearing, and background music playing. Okay, I realize this is magic, but I don't know?. It seemed lackluster. Or perhaps it's the writing that makes it feel dull. When Madoc moves his closed fist over an empty dish, and chants in an unknown language, Randal is the only one to see water fill up the bowl and a picture to form in the water. After all the dinner guests depart, Randal catches up to Madoc and asks him about becoming a wizard. Madoc discourages him, insisting that he would spend most of his life getting into trouble, being hungry, and traveling on the road. Despite this caution, Randal persists. Ultimately, Madoc gives into Randal's pleas and enrolls him in a magic school. There, discovering that magic comes less naturally to him than his earlier vision, Randal immerses himself in studies just to pass. He also meets gifted students who decide that magic is not fulfilling for them and so choose other trades. School of Wizardry is ONLY about magic, whereas the Harry Potter series is about family and friends and teachers and love and loyalty and POSITIVE things. With its sole emphasis on wizardry, I found myself taking the School of Wizardry series much more seriously and so having to push myself to finish it. I do not recommend it.

Score - 3
reviewed by Allison H.F..
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
May 8, 2012

Fish - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 8
Fish
by Gregory Mone [j Mone]

Did you know there are both good and bad pirates? In Fish by Gregory Mone, when Fish (whose real name is Maurice) is forced to join the crew of The Scurvy Mistress, he doesn't know one kind of pirate from the other. He also doesn't care. His sole mission is to retrieve the bag of gold coins which Nate had stolen from him. Unfortunately, Fish gets caught. In the interrogation that follows, Fish learns that some pirates are raiders while others are seekers. The "raiding" pirates believe that attacking every ship in the water is the swiftest way to fortune. (These are the bad pirates.) In contrast, "seeking" pirates prefer to undertake challenging quests. The Scurvy Mistress is manned by both types, a division which eventually leads to a mutiny. Thus begins an adventure where Fish not only has to decide which pirates to defend, he also faces other choices. For example, should he interfere with Cobb's orders, when a fellow pirate is sentenced to walk the plank for betraying the crew? Or should he fight when challenged to a duel, despite his abhorrence of violence? Although Mone isn't blatant about themes, he does interweave into Fish the values of family, friendship, pacifism (which might seem like an oxymoron in a pirate book) and being true to self. Their subtle inclusion is part of what makes Fish stand out from typical adventure stories. Time to talk treasure! Every good pirate story must include it. Fish is no exception. Initially, all that anyone on board knows is that head pirate Cobb seeks a treasure that will render the ship's treasure chest of coins "as worthless as pebbles and stones". Cobb also promises that every member of the crew will receive a share large enough to buy a herd of horses. That's enough to make Fish give up on the idea of retrieving that bag of coins his uncle gave him. It's also enough to cause mutiny. What better adventure could one ask for than a soaking-good seafaring pirate story about a treasure hunt? There's even a dash of romance and humor. Just be sure that when you do borrow Fish, you can curl up for a long read. It's that good!

Score - 8
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
May 3, 2012

Hex Hall - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 3
Hex Hall
by Rachel Hawkins [j Hawkins or YA PB Hawkins]

Mix together angst and attitude. Then pile on the romance and rebellion. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins is an addicting read. I wanted to guzzle it like a fizzy soft drink. Unfortunately, by the end, I also felt as if my teeth had rotted. When you think of female teen fiction, what comes to mind? If you said bad boys and mean girls, you'll have nicely summarized the bulk of Hex Hall. In chapter two, Sophie meets Archer. He sounds about right for your typical "bad" boy. After rescuing her from a werewolf, he angers Sophie by insulting her powers. That also sounds about right for an opening scene. After all, if Archer was nice from the start, what would be his attraction? And, if Sophie liked him from the start, what fun would there be in his pursuit of her? Next, in chapter four, Sophie meets the three "charmed" ones. They are pretty and mean. What else would you expect? After all, if they were plain and kind, what would the pay-off be when they finally accept Sophie? Oh, there is one other thing that female teen fiction should bring to mind: friendship. My favorite character is Jenny. She's one of the more interesting characters in a parade of clichés. To a certain extent, Hex Hall reminds me of the movie Mean Girls, because initially Sophie doesn't want anything to do with the three "charmed" ones. When Sophie realizes exactly what kind of witches they are, she turns down their offer to join them. In turn, the leader Elodie accuses Sophie of thinking she is better of them, but Sophie claims that isn't her reason. This scenario is one of several where I think Hawkins missed an opportunity to instill moral values into Hex Hall. While I dislike preachy novels, I also admire those authors who slip little snippets of wisdom into their books. Another missed opportunity occurs when Jenny tells Sophie that students aren't allowed to use their powers to be lazy, but then nothing else is ever said about this idea. The above criticisms aside, my biggest peeve is how much Hex Hall is a Harry Potter clone. To start, Hecate Hall is housed at a remote location. Students can reach this location only by ferry. Inside the school, a spiral staircase twists up three stories, seemingly supported by nothing. Pale and cold people sometimes sweep by the students. I'll give you one guess as to what they are. There's only one bathroom on the entire floor. One teacher picks on Sophie and even some of her peers despise her because, unbeknownst to Sophie, she possesses the strongest powers available to a witch. There is a groundskeeper and even a forbidden wood. While I love a good fantasy, Hex Hall wasn't one. Sadly, too many of the young adult paranormal books I've read have disappointed me. This puts me on the hunt for the exception. Or maybe I'll just stick with young adult fiction that has nothing to do with witches, vampires, werewolves, and faeries.

Score - 3
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
April 10, 2012

Heart of a Samurai - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 8
Heart of a Samurai
by Margi Preus [j Preus]

How would you react if someone greeted you with a bow or by avoiding eye contact? Captain Whitfield reacted with impatience, which puzzled Manjiro and his fishermen companions. To them, those actions showed politeness. Other similar examples of miscommunication between cultures abound in Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus, the fictionalized true story of how a Japanese teenage fisherman named Manjiro discovered America in 1841 and how as an adult he persuaded Japan to ease open its boundaries. As such, it will interest historical fiction buffs and those seeking multicultural novels. Because Heart of a Samurai also involves sea travel, whaling expeditions, mutiny, and storms, it'll also appeal to anyone who likes adventure stories. Margi Preus visited Japan twice, which no doubt helped with her convincing portrayal of Manjiro and his companions. In every situation, Preus helps me see what five fisherman in 1841 might have felt. All of these situations are also explored within the context of a story that is already incredibly interesting. Manjiro and his companions get caught in a storm. Even when they find land, their peril has just begun. Because of an author's need to remain faithful to actual events, the risk of historical fiction is that it can read like a dry narrative. In contrast, Heart of a Samurai poignantly explores universal themes. Some are fairly familiar such as that of growing up and finding one's place in the world. Other themes have been less frequently explored but are equally important, such as how to negotiate the precarious balance between two worlds that one loves. Through moments like these, Preus makes Manjiro feel like a real person. What I loved most about Heart of a Samurai is how Preus introduced me to an inspiring individual whom I wish I could have known, within the context of an enthralling story.

Score - 8
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
March 30, 2012

The Death Instinct - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
The Death Instinct
by Jed Rubenfeld [Rubenfeld]

Did you know the first terrorist act on American soil was in 1920? It was then that a wagon filled with dynamite blew up on Wall Street injuring or killing close to 400 people. The perpetrators have never been named or punished, but Rubenfeld's novel, which involves psychoanalysis, Madame Curie and radiation, World War I and police work make an exciting what-if about the topic. Not a quick or easy read, but definitely enjoyable.

Score - 9
reviewed by Barbara R.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
February 7, 2012

Falling In - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 8
Falling In
by Frances O'Roark Dowell [j Dowell]

Falling In is a welcome change from the darkness and broodiness that one gets these days in fantasies written for older youth. Without the burden of emotional angst, juvenile fantasies are free to launch readers into imaginative worlds. Written by Frances O'Roark Dowell, Falling In is full of whimsy and diverse friendships! The summary alone intrigued me: "Isabelle Bean follows a mouse's squeak into a closet and falls into a parallel universe where the children believe she is the witch they have feared for years, finally come to devour them." Falling In is like nothing I had expected because of the peculiar main character Isabelle Bean and because of the twists in the plot. What about those diverse friendships? Well, there is Grete, a mysterious old woman the children meet in the woods who knows Isabel's mom. How is that possible, when the two live in parallel universes? Then there is Elizabeth, a girl from the camps who like Hen has a secret or two of her own. There's also eight-year-old Jacob who flubs some very important plans. And for the animal factor, there is a reclusive brown spider. To find out its purpose, you'll need to read Falling In for yourself. While imparting valuable lessons about friends and prejudice, it is also imaginative and playful. Dowell doesn't know if she'll write another fantasy; Falling In is not her typical fare. However, I really enjoyed it and so will be reading her realistic fiction. I'm also rooting for her to write more fantasies.

Score - 8
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
February 5, 2012

xxxxx - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
Jim the Boy
by Tony Earley [Earley]

A simple tale about a simpler time. this details the life of farm boy Jim Glass, age 10. Glass is a pretty typical young boy, growing up in North Carolina in the Depression years. For readers who long for a book that explains the subleties of morals and ethics, and stays away from sex, violence and cursing, this is it. The Chicago Tribune says it's a novel "that perfectly captures the innocence and confusion and wonder of childhood." I agree.

Score - 10
reviewed by Barbara R.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
January 20, 2012

The Truth-Teller's Lie - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
The Truth-Teller's Lie
by Sophie Hannah

A dark and psychologically police procedural detailing the search for one or two serial rapists, based on the testimony of a young woman who may or may not be telling the truth. The violence is told in detail, which may make it too dark and twisted for squeamish readers. (I admit, I lightly passed over it.) The tension and suspense are there in spades, however, and Hannah tells a passionate tale of love and sex gone terribly wrong. The London Times called it "A superbly creepy, twisty thriller about obsessive love, psychological torture and the darkest chambers of the human heart."

Score - 9
reviewed by Barbara R.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
January 20, 2012

Robinson Crusoe - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 3
Robinson Crusoe
by Daniel Defoe [Defoe, or j Defoe]

There is no doubt that Robinson Crusoe is important to literary history. First published in 1719, it is among one of the first novels ever written. It also marked the beginning of realistic fiction, with its success leading to the popularity of castaway novels. I doubt however that the style and content of the original version of Robinson Crusoe will appeal to today's young readers. First, let's consider the style. It is so rambling and repetitious that it made my head hurt to read it in large chunks. Besides writing novels, Daniel Defoe apparently also wrote manuals. I believe it! A second problem I have with Defoe's style is how analytical and impassive his descriptions are. I can't remember the last time I checked my email so often during one page. Next, let's consider the content. It irritated me on two levels. First, Defoe was badly in need of an editor. I'm all for skipping ahead to that fatal seafaring journey where he is marooned, because from that point until his rescue I somewhat enjoyed the story. Moreover, in my version (a slightly shortened form of part one), after Crusoe is rescued, Defoe tortured me for twenty-five additional pages with accounts of Crusoe's life back in England. The content also irritated me on a second level, in that there is material which begs for footnotes so that readers understand the context of the times wherein Defoe wrote. At this point, I would be amiss if I didn't point out what I did enjoy about Robinson Crusoe. Daniel Defoe created an extremely realistic character. I also enjoyed reading about all the tools that Crusoe created during his sojourn on the island, along with his ponderings on moral dilemmas such as when is it right to kill another man and what role God should have in his life. As you can see, there are gems in Robinson Crusoe. Unfortunately, they're so grimed in repetition and unnecessary content that they become drudgery to me. For that reason, I found myself wondering: Do some literary classics become dated? Should a book ever be rewritten in modern English? Should a book ever be abridged? What do you think?

Score - 3
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
January 20, 2012

xxxxx - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
by Grace Lin [j Lin]

Lin's Newbery Honor book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is a fantasy inspired by Chinese folklore. In the tradition of journey stories, this is about Minli, who goes on a trip to seek a solution to a problem. Minli seeks the Man of the Moon to ask how the family can change their fortune. As in The Wizard of Oz, Minli meets characters along the way who also need help from the Man of the Moon. Unlike in The Wizard of Oz, only one travels with her: a dragon who can't fly. In what seems almost too conveniently like The Wizard of Oz, these two comrades encounter evil monkeys when trying to cross the woods to their destination. Other dangers are more original to Lin such as a poisonous tiger. I recognized two motifs from folklore: the disguised king and sacrificed children. Others such as the guardians of the city, the borrowed line, and the fruitless mountain may or may not be derived from Chinese tales with which I am less familiar. In any event, Lin has seamlessly blended various aspects of folklore into one beautiful story. What makes Lin's books so special are their themes of family, friendship, love, and heritage. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon has another theme, which is found in the answer to Minli?s question about how her family can change their fortune. This is an absorbing fantasy, deserving of classic status.

Score - 9
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
January 20, 2012

My Fair Godmother - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 8
My Fair Godmother
by Janette Rallison [j Rallison]

My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison is a funny teen fantasy romance with morals to boot. Through the guise of the three wishes that Savannah is granted by her godmother, Rallison imparts blunt truths about love. Savannah's first thought is to ask for Hunter fall back in love with her, but she is smart enough to know that winning Hunter back only with magic won't make her truly happy. Rallison never holds back any punches with her morals, but she also wraps them up so creatively in the disastrous outcomes of Savannah's wishes that the lessons feel like logical outcomes in a riveting story. Of course, it also helps that Rallison laces her love story with humor and fantasy. Some of the humor lies in Savannah's attitude. Some of the humor lies in the scrapes that Savannah finds herself in. As for the fantasy, you already know there's a godmother. There's also a leprechaun, a wizard and an apprentice with potions and poisons to sell, a Cyclops that Tristan needs to fight, and a mysterious black knight. For the most part, Rallison stays faithful to the original fairy tales into which she dumps Savannah. Even when she departs from them for literary purposes, they never left me with the bad taste some other fractured tales have. I love fantasy, in big doses. Whether it comes in the form of humor, romance, or another genre, I'm going to try it. Yet while my love of fantasy might mean I'll pick it off the shelves more often, an author still needs to be smart for me to seek out more of their books. Janette Rallison is, in so many ways. She might even be my new author find.

Score - 8
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
January 20, 2012

Leave a comment about one of the reviews

New in  -- New addition to this site within the past two months